Debt Ceiling Chicken

bandit0013 wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

You can start by suing the management of the corporation as individual decisionmakers and affording them no legal protection for acting on behalf of the corporation. This would have the added advantage of slowing down the rate at which corporate managers make decisions that are clearly detrimental to the communities around them. It would also prevent the same from foisting the externalities of their decisions on pensioners who invest in their companies without any real say in the decision making process. It might even have the added benefit of making management more accountable to their shareholders because they would need that cover to prevent being stuck with all the blame.

That also means that if you were a manager at a construction company and some nutjob environmentalist group thought you were killing a chipmunk at your construction site that they could sue you personally. Good luck in your middle class salary being able to defend yourself in court while feeding your kids. Without substantial legal system reform you'd be incapable of doing business because of fears of legal reprisals for any decision you might make. Even look at safety standards. Say there's a 1:100 million chance that the toaster will catch fire. Are you as the manager going to release it to production knowing that the if it actually does and someone loses their house you personally are on the hook for damages?

Companies could pay to insure their management against that kind of liability.

DanB wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

You can start by suing the management of the corporation as individual decisionmakers and affording them no legal protection for acting on behalf of the corporation. This would have the added advantage of slowing down the rate at which corporate managers make decisions that are clearly detrimental to the communities around them. It would also prevent the same from foisting the externalities of their decisions on pensioners who invest in their companies without any real say in the decision making process. It might even have the added benefit of making management more accountable to their shareholders because they would need that cover to prevent being stuck with all the blame.

That also means that if you were a manager at a construction company and some nutjob environmentalist group thought you were killing a chipmunk at your construction site that they could sue you personally. Good luck in your middle class salary being able to defend yourself in court while feeding your kids. Without substantial legal system reform you'd be incapable of doing business because of fears of legal reprisals for any decision you might make. Even look at safety standards. Say there's a 1:100 million chance that the toaster will catch fire. Are you as the manager going to release it to production knowing that the if it actually does and someone loses their house you personally are on the hook for damages?

Companies could pay to insure their management against that kind of liability.

They already do. It's just that they insure the company itself.

bandit0013 wrote:
DanB wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

You can start by suing the management of the corporation as individual decisionmakers and affording them no legal protection for acting on behalf of the corporation. This would have the added advantage of slowing down the rate at which corporate managers make decisions that are clearly detrimental to the communities around them. It would also prevent the same from foisting the externalities of their decisions on pensioners who invest in their companies without any real say in the decision making process. It might even have the added benefit of making management more accountable to their shareholders because they would need that cover to prevent being stuck with all the blame.

That also means that if you were a manager at a construction company and some nutjob environmentalist group thought you were killing a chipmunk at your construction site that they could sue you personally. Good luck in your middle class salary being able to defend yourself in court while feeding your kids. Without substantial legal system reform you'd be incapable of doing business because of fears of legal reprisals for any decision you might make. Even look at safety standards. Say there's a 1:100 million chance that the toaster will catch fire. Are you as the manager going to release it to production knowing that the if it actually does and someone loses their house you personally are on the hook for damages?

Companies could pay to insure their management against that kind of liability.

They already do. It's just that they insure the company itself.

Ok, so the potential cost of liability under either model needn't be an issue.

I think you also suggested that people wouldn't commit capital to business if it weren't for limited liability provisions. But that's clearly not the case. Whether or not people commit capital is a function of the amount of risk and the available return for that risk. Many business markets would probably be significantly less liquid than they are now under a direct liability model but it's not actually clear to me that would be a bad thing. Insurance markets where underwriters are exposed to direct liability are plenty liquid mind.

DanB wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
DanB wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

You can start by suing the management of the corporation as individual decisionmakers and affording them no legal protection for acting on behalf of the corporation. This would have the added advantage of slowing down the rate at which corporate managers make decisions that are clearly detrimental to the communities around them. It would also prevent the same from foisting the externalities of their decisions on pensioners who invest in their companies without any real say in the decision making process. It might even have the added benefit of making management more accountable to their shareholders because they would need that cover to prevent being stuck with all the blame.

That also means that if you were a manager at a construction company and some nutjob environmentalist group thought you were killing a chipmunk at your construction site that they could sue you personally. Good luck in your middle class salary being able to defend yourself in court while feeding your kids. Without substantial legal system reform you'd be incapable of doing business because of fears of legal reprisals for any decision you might make. Even look at safety standards. Say there's a 1:100 million chance that the toaster will catch fire. Are you as the manager going to release it to production knowing that the if it actually does and someone loses their house you personally are on the hook for damages?

Companies could pay to insure their management against that kind of liability.

They already do. It's just that they insure the company itself.

Ok, so the potential cost of liability under either model needn't be an issue.

I think you also suggested that people wouldn't commit capital to business if it weren't for limited liability provisions. But that's clearly not the case. Whether or not people commit capital is a function of the amount of risk and the available return for that risk. Many business markets would probably be significantly less liquid than they are now under a direct liability model but it's not actually clear to me that would be a bad thing. Insurance markets where underwriters are exposed to direct liability are plenty liquid mind.

It was more suggesting that less people would. I think it would have a stifling effect on innovation in areas (like medical) where the liability risks could be high.

bandit0013 wrote:

I think you're way off base here. A corporation is a collection of shareholders looking to pool assets to minimize risk in the quest for larger profits. That's a specific purpose just like a union. They're also via corporate personhood minimizing risks and protecting themselves from individual liability. How do you propose actually starting businesses that require a large amount of capital investment without shareholders and the protections offered them?

Additionally, I think you're very confused about how a corporation works. Ever heard of a board of directors? Guess who gets to choose those? The shareholders. Shareholders can even sue the board if they feel the board isn't best representing their interests. So the little or no say thing is completely false. Also, the stock market valuation of shares serves as an international lever to punish (or reward) corporations for their actions.

Conceptually, it's no different than a union except that the individuals involved probably have more freedom. :P

Limited liability has absolutely nothing to do with corporate personhood. You can still create a company and limit your financial exposure--the entire purpose of corporations--without requiring the concept of corporate personhood.

Considering I've done investor relations for publicly-held companies I'm going to say that I have a pretty good idea on how corporations work.

Not every board of directors consists of elected members. In fact, a great deal are appointed. By who? The CEO and Chairman (often the same person). Even if the position open and up for election the executives of the company have huge input into who that candidate is, not the investors. And during an election the 100 shares you may vote is completely swamped by the five million shares some fund manager is voting.

Most Boards aren't truly independent, so its a bit of a stretch to say they represent the interests of shareholders. The members were likely appointed by the CEO so there is a tendency for them not to push too much. This becomes clear if you've ever sat in on a Board meeting. It's basically just a day where the management team showers the members with PowerPoints and spreadsheets that all say how awesome things are going and what a bang up job they're doing. If the management team hit their Street number that quarter and look on track for the current quarter than the Board could really care less what was happening day to day. If the company missed their numbers the execs will blame it on the economy ("no one could have expected it") and tell the Board how many people they're laying off to re-align costs.

Perversely more CEOs sweat their earnings call than they do their Board meeting because the earnings call has analysts and institutional investors that like to ask a lot of very specific questions. But even then you have a good idea of who's going to ask what type of question and can have a canned response ready.

Investors suing the company or the Board isn't really effective because it takes so long for those class action suits to work their way through the courts.

bandit0013 wrote:

True, but we just had a mini thread about how corporations/shareholders shouldn't be allowed to have free speech rights. I'm just saying if you shut that down, you better shut down the other groups, including unions, as well. It sounds a lot to me when people argue about this that they're just trying to shut down the views they don't agree with instead of addressing the fundamental issue which is campaign financing.

The only reason Citizen's United went the way it went was because of the idea of corporate personhood. Corporations only have the right of free speech because they are sadly legally considered people. Take that away and they don't have any Constitutional right to speech, which is how it should be.

It's not because I don't agree with them it's because the only voices that should be heard during elections are the voices of actual citizens. It exceptionally dangerous to have so much money flooding elections that come from legal constructs that honestly don't give a f*ck about the country and its citizens. The days of what's good for GM is good for America are over, especially when GM is selling most of its cars outside the country.

Unions slip through because they are considered voluntary associations of individuals. They've never claimed a right to free speech based on personhood, but because they directly represent individuals.

DSGamer wrote:

Wouldn't printing $1T in fiat currency immediately take US currency to Zimbabwe-land?

Minting coins is an asset without a corresponding liability, hence not debt.

In reality it is representing 1 trillion dollars of assets that is part of the US government like the federal parks, the pentagon, and the White House. It is collateral.

The deficit spending that is done now pretends that the USA has no assets.

With these explanations, how would the coin be inflationary?

Funkenpants wrote:

If we cut spending, how do you know Congress won't use the cuts as an excuse for tax cuts and borrow the difference? That's what happened the last time we were even close to matching revenue against expenditure.

Because the debt ceiling wasn't raised, preventing additional borrowing. Admittedly, it's unlikely to happen unless Americans suddenly grow a backbone, but it's at least logical.

OG_slinger wrote:

stuff on spending from NPR

Yes, if we keep spending at current levels, we will not be able to pay our bills - which is why spending would have to be cut. Defense contracts would end. Federal employees and soldiers would have to be let go because they couldn't be paid. Federal bureaucracies would have to shut down. Being fiscally responsible means having to prioritize, make the hard decisions, and realize that you can't always get what you want. A shocking concept, I know.

Do you really think Congress could even begin to keep up with juggling payments on a daily basis? There's a reason why Congress stopped passing individual appropriation bills for every individual thing the government needs.

They don't need to. Being late on payments isn't good, but it isn't the end of the world, and Congress would simply need to actually decide which programs are important enough to fund with available revenue, and which are not. I certainly have a list, as do many other people. Things would be worked out. We could certainly do with a lot fewer soldiers and overseas bases - end the wars and bring our guys home. Terminate foreign aid. Shut down the Department of Education entirely. Streamline the tax code and dump most of the IRS. Cut Social Security benefits for future generations.

What Congressman is going to pass a bill saying Granny gets paid after the banks or wants to go on record with a vote that postpones a deployed soldier's pay indefinitely?

Wait - are you saying that Congress would be more accountable to voters and the people who are bleeding and dying in our foreign wars, instead of accountable to monied interests and lobbyists? The horror!

No, we're consistently unable to pay for the services we want. People want and like government services. They just don't like to pay for them. When politicians figured out that they could provide services without requiring people to pay for them immediately, they jumped all over it. It was the easy thing to do.

Imagine that - people's wants constrained by fiscal and economic reality. That's a situation that we should definitely avoid!

One of the biggest budget item is healthcare spending. We spent more than a year pushing through a health care reform bill that really did nothing to address actual costs. Do you really think more progress is going to be made over the next few weeks as everyone is posturing for the 2012 elections?

No, of course not. Politicians are what they are - human. Since we as a nation are not willing to be fiscally responsible, they will not be. But it's important to at least recognize and admit that, and understand that there are viable alternatives.

Aetius wrote:

Because the debt ceiling wasn't raised, preventing additional borrowing. Admittedly, it's unlikely to happen unless Americans suddenly grow a backbone, but it's at least logical.

We have a process for cutting spending. Congress passes a budget each year that mandates spending levels. All we're seeing here is republican gamesmanship as they try to make political hay out of a limit that they've agreed to bypass constantly since it was put in place.

Funkenpants wrote:
Aetius wrote:

Because the debt ceiling wasn't raised, preventing additional borrowing. Admittedly, it's unlikely to happen unless Americans suddenly grow a backbone, but it's at least logical.

We have a process for cutting spending. Congress passes a budget each year. All we're seeing here is republican gamesmanship as they try to make political hay out of a limit that they've agreed to bypass constantly since it was put in place.

I agree entirely - but it doesn't change the logic of the situation.

Aetius wrote:

I agree entirely - but it doesn't change the logic of the situation.

I would see the deficit-cutting logic in it if the republicans were really willing to incur the wrath of the credit markets (assuming trashing our credit rating is a net gain in our financial health). In reality, this won't happen because no CEO wants to see borrowing costs increase and the value of his company stock decline because Eric Cantor doesn't want Obama to have a second term. It sounds like the tactic is beginning to backfire.

Edit- Also, if Obama is offering cuts to social security and medicare in exchange for some tax hikes to get a more balanced budget, isn't that success from the deficit cutting side? Why does Cantor and his crew continue to turn down any deal that involves a tax increase, when tax increases are one way to cut the deficit?

Funkenpants wrote:
Aetius wrote:

I agree entirely - but it doesn't change the logic of the situation.

I would see the deficit-cutting logic in it if the republicans were really willing to incur the wrath of the credit markets (assuming trashing our credit rating is a net gain in our financial health). In reality, this won't happen because no CEO wants to see borrowing costs increase and the value of his company stock decline because Eric Cantor doesn't want Obama to have a second term. It sounds like the tactic is beginning to backfire.

Edit- Also, if Obama is offering cuts to social security and medicare in exchange for some tax hikes to get a more balanced budget, isn't that success from the deficit cutting side? Why does Cantor and his crew continue to turn down any deal that involves a tax increase, when tax increases are one way to cut the deficit?

Except congress likes to do things like project a 15% increase in budget but only pass a 10% and then claim they "saved" 5% on the budget.

Because the debt ceiling wasn't raised, preventing additional borrowing. Admittedly, it's unlikely to happen unless Americans suddenly grow a backbone, but it's at least logical.

In the weird world of Congress, however, this does nothing to prevent additional *spending* being mandated. The borrowing is fulfilling debt obligations we've incurred in the past. That's why it's so dangerous to not raise the limit. Creditors are okay with you borrowing to fund your lifestyle if they are sure you'll pay it back somehow. The first time you fail to do that, suddenly the loans dry up, and you're left with the gap between assets and money allocated to account for in some other way.

The better way to do it is what Boehner and Obama both agreed on - legislation and policy changes to reduce future spending commitments. I believe that we should share the pain by increasing revenue from taxes, too. But the idea of doing *nothing* and raising the debt limit is absolute stupidity. Is the problem going to go away between now and the 2012 elections? No. The Republicans are simply hoping they can capture the Senate and impose *their* doctrine, and they are willing to risk crashing the economy to do it.

My opinion? A spending reduction plan will not be reached, and the McConnell plan will come into play, and Obama will sign it and say "Okay, you guys got what you wanted. Now you can learn what pressure *really* means. Call me when you're ready to reduce taxes on the above-$250K bracket - and oh by the way, don't bring me any proposal of less than $4T in a decade, bitches." Then just sit back and watch the business and financial leaders savage the GOP while Social Security check printing is shut down.

@ OG

And here's a solid example of why I think unions are just as bad as corporations:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jul/15/labors-new-strategy-intimidation-for-dummies/

bandit0013 wrote:

@ OG

And here's a solid example of why I think unions are just as bad as corporations:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jul/15/labors-new-strategy-intimidation-for-dummies/

Just as bad? Are you serious?

Unions simply aren't the powerhouse they once were. About 60 years ago unions accounted for nearly a third of all workers. Today they account for about 10% of all workers. They just aren't the big, bad bugaboo you want them to be.

Corporations, on the other hand, are now sitting on a trillion and a half dollars and are throwing off more cash at a record pace. According to Citizens United they can spend any amount of that on buying friendly politicians (and now they can hide their purchases by funneling the money through 527 groups). Do you really think that unions and their falling membership can even come close to raising the same amount of cash that corporations could spend without blinking?

Not to mention that corporations these days aren't exactly concerned about what's good for America. The days of "what's good for GM is good for America" are long over. Today GM sells less than 40% of the cars it makes in the States. Like many other corporations they can now push for policies that are horrible for Americans and America, but absolutely awesome for their bottom lines. Why should they give a sh*t about ensuring the US has quality schools when they can soak up the thousands of engineers and programmers that China and India are starting to throw off (and they'd cheaper than their US counterparts...a double win for corporations). Why should they care that the US economy is in the sh*tter when China's economy is growing 10% a year and will surpass ours in size in about a decade?

That's the danger of Citizens United. It's even scarier when you realize that corporations don't even have to spend that much money. Ten or twenty million can buy them a couple of Congressmen outright. Couple that with another couple tens of millions in lobbyists who will write the laws they way the corporations want them and some more for some good PR and they can get themselves a legislated windfall for much less money than it would take for them to, I don't know, actually invest in R&D and build a better mousetrap.

Yes, I am serious. Unions are self interested. They don't give a crap about the company, the management, or anyone really. You're up on your high horse slamming corporations for being self interested in profits and I'm pointing out that unions are just as self interested. I'm also unsure what examples you have of the unions "giving a sh*t about ensuring the US has quality schools" since the teacher's union stands against just about every single reform that comes along that involves measurements according to national standards and pay for performance. The education system is the most heavily unionized segment we have left and if unions were really great for the country as you seem to suggest then since we spend the most per pupil in the developed world you'd think that we'd finish better than... what are we now? 15th? 20th? *googles*

The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics. (2010)

How do you expect to get engineers out of our schools when we rank 25th in math? I see this all the time in my job. I happen to run an IT department so I see my share of computer engineers. Every time I fill a position and give the skills assessments that we do we typically have about 80% of US citizens fail and only about 20% of foreign born applicants fail. I've had positions open in the past where the only applicants who passed were foreign. Frankly I don't like hiring H1-Bs. The fees and paperwork are a pita. I need people on staff who know what they're doing though, so sometimes I have no choice. Additionally, if you look at the trends, the number of graduates in engineering has been declining for most of the decade. As someone who employs people, I can assure you there is a skill shortage, and it's not because we're shipping jobs overseas or importing H1-B people. If you line up the BLS figures with graduation rates you'll see there is a significant gap between what businesses need and what the population is providing.

This is not the fault of corporations. Education is publicly funded and highly unionized. Also, keep in mind that in the public sector which is mostly union, the unions are allowed to donate money, time, and materials to campaigns of politicians who then vote on their union contracts! Talk about sitting at both sides of the table! How is that even remotely fair or in the best interest of the 88% of the population that isn't unionized?

The main difference I see between a union and Microsoft is that Microsoft isn't going to picket my house and harass my children (see article) if I choose a Mac.

Back to the topic though, again you're just jumping all over the corporation then when my statement was simple: Either organizations that represent individuals, be they union members, shareholders, or whatever are allowed to donate or they're not. Drawing some imaginary line around union individuals is a breach of fairness. I favor state funded elections. Politicians should represent their districts, not any donor.

Lastly, I invite you to watch this great interview bit from the daily show. Because pro union types always remind me of the organizer they're nailing:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-september-20-2010/working-stiffed

bandit0013 wrote:

The main difference I see between a union and Microsoft is that Microsoft isn't going to picket my house and harass my children (see article) if I choose a Mac.

You [em]are[/em] familiar with the practices common among employers that lead to workers forming labor unions, I hope?

Hypatian wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:

The main difference I see between a union and Microsoft is that Microsoft isn't going to picket my house and harass my children (see article) if I choose a Mac.

You [em]are[/em] familiar with the practices common among employers that lead to workers forming labor unions, I hope?

Practices that are illegal in modern times.

I don't have a problem with people unionizing. I have a big problem with some things unions do though. Namely:

1. Tenure > Merit
2. Public workers donating $$$ to politicians who control their pay / benefits
3. The concept of a "closed shop" which requires someone who doesn't want to join a union to do so under threat of unemployment and pay dues.
4. The use of union dues funds towards political causes that some of their members may not agree with. (but can't not pay dues due to #3)

But I have no issue at all with workers forming together to negotiate a salary and benefits structure, striking together, etc. However, the reason union membership is shrinking in this country is because the laws grant safety, legal, and other protections nowadays (thank you unions for that). Thus, a majority of workers don't feel like being in a union provides benefits that outweigh the costs.

I forgot to add #5:

5. Anything that makes it onerous to fire bad employees. (see "job banks" in the auto industry or the hundreds of teachers in NY state that are suspected of molestation, can't be trusted in the classroom but can't be fired so they sit in the teacher's lounge year after year collecting pay)

Robert Reich, [i wrote:

Supercapitalism [/i]pp 133-135]Almost all of this vast increase in lobbying has been financed by businesses. Lobbying by nonbusiness groups has been paltry in comparison. For example, in 2005, the AFL-CIO had only six paid lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Of the one hundred organizations that spent the most on lobbying that year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headed the list; the AFL-CIO ranked seventy-fourth. Most public interest groups -- advocating such causes as environmental protection, child welfare, or human rights -- did not even make the list.

The AFL-CIO is the single largest labor group in America. 73 business groups spend more money on lobbying than they do.

This isn't even about David vs. Goliath. It's about Bambi vs. an army of Godzillas.

bandit0013 wrote:

Practices that are illegal in modern times.

Because of Unions. And now that they are weaker, you have people the nation over chomping at the bit to chip away at everything they've earned since the Wobblies were at their strongest.

I don't have a problem with people unionizing. I have a big problem with some things unions do though. Namely:

1. Tenure > Merit

You'll get a very grudging agreement from me. This really depends on specifics -- like who is defining "merit."

2. Public workers donating $$$ to politicians who control their pay / benefits

I donate money directly to people who control my property taxes. Are you saying nobody should be allowed to donate money?

3. The concept of a "closed shop" which requires someone who doesn't want to join a union to do so under threat of unemployment and pay dues.

The alternative (right to work states) have resulted time and again in lower wages for non union people -- but the reason why right to work environments suck is that scabs workers who choose not to unionize get most of the benefits of their unionized brethren without paying a cent in dues.

4. The use of union dues funds towards political causes that some of their members may not agree with. (but can't not pay dues due to #3)

Wholeheartedly agree here. That said, I'm not aware of whether union members are allowed to vote on how they spend political money or not.

@ Seth

Your property tax agreements aren't part of a multiple trillion dollar liability that may drive some states into bankruptcy.

Paleocon wrote:
Robert Reich, [i wrote:

Supercapitalism [/i]pp 133-135]Almost all of this vast increase in lobbying has been financed by businesses. Lobbying by nonbusiness groups has been paltry in comparison. For example, in 2005, the AFL-CIO had only six paid lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Of the one hundred organizations that spent the most on lobbying that year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headed the list; the AFL-CIO ranked seventy-fourth. Most public interest groups -- advocating such causes as environmental protection, child welfare, or human rights -- did not even make the list.

The AFL-CIO is the single largest labor group in America. 73 business groups spend more money on lobbying than they do.

This isn't even about David vs. Goliath. It's about Bambi vs. an army of Godzillas.

Which is why we should take the money out of the system. Again, I just point out that if you think corporations (shareholders) shouldn't do it than neither should unions. I really don't see why this is such an objectionable concept.

The idea that organizations should not spend money on things a member might disagree with is a red herring, because the only answer to that issue is to stop them collecting money from their members (or, I guess, stop them spending). Anything else would simply shift the offended groups from some members to others.

The same reasoning applies to taxes.

Robear wrote:

The idea that organizations should not spend money on things a member might disagree with is a red herring, because the only answer to that issue is to stop them collecting money from their members (or, I guess, stop them spending). Anything else would simply shift the offended groups from some members to others.

The same reasoning applies to taxes.

I've often wondered. Some of the businesses that have gone under and union people lost pensions etc. If the unions had invested their dues, could they have paid out of that fun to protect their members, or even insured their pensions? Cause if I were a blue collar type and I was saving for retirement then knowing my union dues were insuring my retirement against company default would make me far more likely to pay in.

I've seen some figures that put union spending in the 08 and '10 elections at $80 mil and $100 mil respectively. That could fund a lot of lost retirement income.

@Seth

I also don't think the right to work states are directly responsible for the lower wages. I think lower wages in manufacturing, like automotive is due to a mix of globalization and automation. It's just not economical to pay $50/hr for someone to insert part A into slot B anymore when there are 3 billion other people on the planet who can do it just as well for cheaper.

Unfortunately only protectionism could fix this or investment in skilled manufacturing like in Germany. Neither of which is likely to happen. Frankly, I feel bad for people without marketable skills in the coming decades, because it's going to get worse before it gets better.

bandit0013 wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
Robert Reich, [i wrote:

Supercapitalism [/i]pp 133-135]Almost all of this vast increase in lobbying has been financed by businesses. Lobbying by nonbusiness groups has been paltry in comparison. For example, in 2005, the AFL-CIO had only six paid lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Of the one hundred organizations that spent the most on lobbying that year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headed the list; the AFL-CIO ranked seventy-fourth. Most public interest groups -- advocating such causes as environmental protection, child welfare, or human rights -- did not even make the list.

The AFL-CIO is the single largest labor group in America. 73 business groups spend more money on lobbying than they do.

This isn't even about David vs. Goliath. It's about Bambi vs. an army of Godzillas.

Which is why we should take the money out of the system. Again, I just point out that if you think corporations (shareholders) shouldn't do it than neither should unions. I really don't see why this is such an objectionable concept.

The difference may be subtle, but it is nonetheless signficant. In the case of the labor union, you join for the expressed purpose of protecting your rights as a worker and furthering the agenda of improving working conditions and wages. The entire lobbying budget of that organization comes directly from your and other similarly inclined people's contributions through dues. You may disagree with the direction of leadership, but your command over their conduct is a great deal of the reason you join.

In the case of a corporation or an industry group, their command over capital is not at all limited to that of those invested in their political agenda. And in the case of financial services in the wake of the financial services bailouts, they clearly run in direct contravention of the desires of the vast majority of Americans (the very same folks who should by all rights own them).

In one case, you may differ in degree. In the other, you most likely differ in principle.

bandit0013 wrote:

@Seth

I also don't think the right to work states are directly responsible for the lower wages. I think lower wages in manufacturing, like automotive is due to a mix of globalization and automation. It's just not economical to pay $50/hr for someone to insert part A into slot B anymore when there are 3 billion other people on the planet who can do it just as well for cheaper.

Unfortunately only protectionism could fix this or investment in skilled manufacturing like in Germany. Neither of which is likely to happen. Frankly, I feel bad for people without marketable skills in the coming decades, because it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Technically it's unions thata re responsible for the "higher" wages right to work people get. There's ~20% difference in wages between a UAW employee and an employee working for one of the right to work factories in KY/TN/MO. that's lower, but even then the non union places are paying a TON more than they would be without the unions being there.

Second: you're right that 30 years of downward pressure from globalization has been hard on unskilled labor. But there's a huge, huge story behind this that really has nothing to do with this topic. Suffice it to say that there's still plenty of room for an American middle class even as the Chinese and Brazilians and Indians claw their way up to a better standard of living.

Oh and Germany? the Unions there are extremely strong. It's only in America that companies like BMW try to destroy Unions. Because...we let them.

Seth wrote:

Oh and Germany? the Unions there are extremely strong. It's only in America that companies like BMW try to destroy Unions. Because...we let them.

In Germany, closed shops are illegal.

Also, German unions tend to have representation on the board and are more involved with management decisions. It's a symbiotic relationship more than the adversarial one we have here. Also in Germany employers form associations so collective bargaining is truly collective rather than deal A with Ford, Deal B with GM, and Deal C with Whoever else. The government tries to seek a true balance of power between employer associations and unions. It also prevents something like what happens here where union workers at GM can threaten to walk off the job and damage GM at the expense of competition with Ford since both groups would belong to associations a work stoppage at GM would mean a work stoppage across the board.

There's far more incentive in the German system to bargain fairly and not do the crap that unions here do that I highlighted.

bandit0013 wrote:

Yes, I am serious. Unions are self interested. They don't give a crap about the company, the management, or anyone really. You're up on your high horse slamming corporations for being self interested in profits and I'm pointing out that unions are just as self interested.

When did I say unions members weren't self interested? The difference is that unions are made up of individual American citizens who are looking out for what's best for them when it comes to employment, working conditions, and benefits.

Corporations are *not* citizens and they are solely looking out for the interest of their investors. It gets worse in that the vast majority of those investors are *not* other American citizens. They are institutional investors, some of which aren't even based in the US. So now the loudest voice in politics are companies who are essentially doing what they think other companies or foreigners want them to do.

bandit0013 wrote:

I'm also unsure what examples you have of the unions "giving a sh*t about ensuring the US has quality schools" since the teacher's union stands against just about every single reform that comes along that involves measurements according to national standards and pay for performance. The education system is the most heavily unionized segment we have left and if unions were really great for the country as you seem to suggest then since we spend the most per pupil in the developed world you'd think that we'd finish better than... what are we now? 15th? 20th? *googles*

I find your entire rant about unions and education hilarious especially because you started another thread about NCLB. Teacher unions were against NCLB from the beginning for several reasons. They knew it would devolve into only teaching the test, which has happened. They also knew schools would be under tremendous political pressure to only show improvements especially since funding was tied directly to test results. This is why the school system in Atlanta fell to the pressure of falsifying test results. And they knew the entire system was rigged from the beginning. No additional funds were allocated to address the larger needs of schools in poorer areas and yet those teachers would be held to the same standard as a school in Beverly Hills. So it turns out that teachers unions were against NCLB for damned good reasons that time has proven to be true.

Without presenting any other evidence you have immediately leaped to the conclusion that the sole reason we aren't number one in all things education is teachers unions. Education has numerous problems, but teachers unions--for the most part--aren't the real problem. That we fund education based on local property taxes and thus foster major inequality in different schools is a real problem. That lots of parents are completely disengaged in the education of their children is a real problem. That the economic and social situation of students and their families get in the way of learning is a real problem.

bandit0013 wrote:

How do you expect to get engineers out of our schools when we rank 25th in math? I see this all the time in my job. I happen to run an IT department so I see my share of computer engineers. Every time I fill a position and give the skills assessments that we do we typically have about 80% of US citizens fail and only about 20% of foreign born applicants fail. I've had positions open in the past where the only applicants who passed were foreign. Frankly I don't like hiring H1-Bs. The fees and paperwork are a pita. I need people on staff who know what they're doing though, so sometimes I have no choice. Additionally, if you look at the trends, the number of graduates in engineering has been declining for most of the decade. As someone who employs people, I can assure you there is a skill shortage, and it's not because we're shipping jobs overseas or importing H1-B people. If you line up the BLS figures with graduation rates you'll see there is a significant gap between what businesses need and what the population is providing.

How exactly is the fact that more Americans don't want to go into technical studies the fault of teachers unions? Perhaps you might want to focus on the fact that we don't spend enough money on special programs targeting math and science; that we're not doing massive imagination capturing investments like the Apollo Program which spurred interest in science and engineering for generations; and, that individual American's bitch about a tiny increase in their property taxes or actively vote down bond measurements so schools have to slash everything but the Three R's.

bandit0013 wrote:

Back to the topic though, again you're just jumping all over the corporation then when my statement was simple: Either organizations that represent individuals, be they union members, shareholders, or whatever are allowed to donate or they're not. Drawing some imaginary line around union individuals is a breach of fairness. I favor state funded elections. Politicians should represent their districts, not any donor.

Corporations do not represent individuals. They represent their own interests, which increasing doesn't include America at all, and they represent the interests of their institutional investors. I seriously doubt your going to find an average American who's going to vote against their own direct interests because doing so would increase the value of the 100 shares of a company that they might directly own by a few pennies.

Politicians should represent the people in their district and corporations aren't people nor are the concerns of corporations--cheap labor, no regulation, etc.--ultimately good for those people.

OG_slinger wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:

Yes, I am serious. Unions are self interested. They don't give a crap about the company, the management, or anyone really. You're up on your high horse slamming corporations for being self interested in profits and I'm pointing out that unions are just as self interested.

When did I say unions members weren't self interested? The difference is that unions are made up of individual American citizens who are looking out for what's best for them when it comes to employment, working conditions, and benefits.

Let me finish your sentence: Often to the detriment of the company, the taxpayer, and non union workers. (See daily show link)

OG_slinger wrote:

I find your entire rant about unions and education hilarious especially because you started another thread about NCLB. Teacher unions were against NCLB from the beginning for several reasons. They knew it would devolve into only teaching the test, which has happened. They also knew schools would be under tremendous political pressure to only show improvements especially since funding was tied directly to test results. This is why the school system in Atlanta fell to the pressure of falsifying test results. And they knew the entire system was rigged from the beginning. No additional funds were allocated to address the larger needs of schools in poorer areas and yet those teachers would be held to the same standard as a school in Beverly Hills. So it turns out that teachers unions were against NCLB for damned good reasons that time has proven to be true.

Without presenting any other evidence you have immediately leaped to the conclusion that the sole reason we aren't number one in all things education is teachers unions. Education has numerous problems, but teachers unions--for the most part--aren't the real problem. That we fund education based on local property taxes and thus foster major inequality in different schools is a real problem. That lots of parents are completely disengaged in the education of their children is a real problem. That the economic and social situation of students and their families get in the way of learning is a real problem.

The slide in our education ranking started long before NCLB. NCLB was attempting to address the teacher/school quality issues that everyone knows exists. NCLB would have never been attempted if the education system was working as-is. Being that education is for the most part a closed shop, I think it's more than fair to place a good part of the blame for our education system on the policies of the teacher's unions. I do believe we need funding reform, however as you stand up there shouting about funding remember that the generation that put us on the moon did so without calculators or computers in their classrooms. You do NOT need a lot of money to teach reading and math, you need a chalkboard and a teacher who actually understands the topic.

Unions, ultimately are about uniformity. That is why you see tenure over merit in systems like education. Up until the 1990s individual school districts were given great latitude in the curriculum for students. Administrators, in turn gave individual teachers a lot of latitude. This lead to a huge variance in what students were actually taught, even within the same school district in different classrooms. Standards based curriculum and testing addresses this issue quite well, even if the funding system is broken.

Standardized testing and other evaluations of teachers are critical to the goals that you claim to have. I find that you and others with the same opinion are caught in a contradiction. You want to stress the importance of teachers, otherwise why pay them better or hire more of them to reduce class sizes? At the same time, however, by resisting measurement you are trying to de-emphasize the variable importance of the individual teacher (uniformity)—otherwise, why shouldn’t the best get paid more money? Why should the worst be allowed to teach at all? In your quote above you're doing what I talked about, your de-emphasizing the individual teacher in favor of other factors (funding, home environment). I argue that if the individual teacher doesn't make much difference then teaching is a commodity and we should probably look at increasing class sizes and/or cutting pay.

OG_slinger wrote:

How exactly is the fact that more Americans don't want to go into technical studies the fault of teachers unions? Perhaps you might want to focus on the fact that we don't spend enough money on special programs targeting math and science; that we're not doing massive imagination capturing investments like the Apollo Program which spurred interest in science and engineering for generations; and, that individual American's bitch about a tiny increase in their property taxes or actively vote down bond measurements so schools have to slash everything but the Three R's.

43% of college students don't graduate. Who prepared them for college? If you didn't learn the fundamentals of reading and math in your public school days, you are going to have a really tough time getting through engineering. I don't have data handy on switching majors out of engineering, but my anecdotal experience from college was that more than half washed out or changed majors in the first 2 years.

I'm not going to address the corporation thing anymore with you because it'd be beating a dead horse.